Google+ is all the rage these days. According to enthusiasts, Google+ is clean and smart, great for sharing pictures, it has “circles” to put people in so you’ll never mix family, business and social acquaintances, and it’s better than Facebook and Twitter, so we should all leave the other networks and join Google+. And there is no point in fighting it.
Well, I’m not so sure about that.
One problem with Google+ is that in spite of all the hype it’s still a beta site, not available to everyone. As Google is still tweaking the product, it started out by granting access to a limited number of people, by invitation only. How cool is that? Someone said “this is like being the coolest kid in High School and getting the first invitation to the big dance!” And these cool users are allowed to invite their friends, who are thrilled to be part of the “in crowd.” It’s a party; a very exclusive party.
But Google+ has been disappointing some of these lucky invitees. That was the case of Blake Ross, co-founder of Firefox and Facebook director of product, whose Google+ account was suspended because of his name. “After reviewing your profile, we determined that the name you provided violates our Community Standards,” said Google. Ross tweeted about it. His profile was eventually turned back on. Other invitees are being rejected at the door with the message: “Thanks for stopping by. We’re still ironing out a few kinks in Google+, so it’s not quite ready for everyone to climb aboard. But, if you want, we’ll let you know the minute the doors are open for real. Cool? Cool.”
Hmm… Is that really cool?
Don’t take me wrong. I love Google, use it exhaustively and could not survive without it. I’ve never even thought about using Bing, even though it came out claiming to be infinitely better than Google. So, I’m loyal to the Google brand and its many great products but I just don’t need Google+.
For starters, it’s not a new idea. I would have loved to see Google invest its resources into something nobody else was offering. I’ve been a Facebook user for some three years and I’m quite happy with it, in spite of its problems and quirkiness. I can manage my friends just fine without “circles” –grant it, I don’t have thousands of them– and I don’t have the time or desire to start over somewhere else, unless of course I have no choice.
And I am not alone. Along with those who claim Google+ is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that it will destroy Facebook, Twitter and everything else in social media, there are also quite a few critics. Some have gone as far as eulogizing it. Others are reluctantly positive but on waiting mode. And, needless to say, the web is full of videos making fun of the new network. I actually enjoy some of the Google+ parodies.
The question is, will Google+ survive or slowly disappear? As with many new products, there was an initial rush to Google+ and the hype built up as people had to fight for invites. But this seems to be winding down. According to Experian Hitwise, by late July total Google+ visits fell about 3 per cent to 1.79 million in the US in the week ending July 23 from the prior seven days. The average time on the site also declined 10 per cent to 5 minutes and 15 seconds. This is probably a reflection of people’s frustration with a network so exclusive that most of their friends can’t join or choose not to.
Google’s decision to have a beta launch may come back to haunt it. This very public trial period is giving millions of people –who would’ve joined immediately if allowed– time to hear feedback about Google+ before making the transition. Since not all feedback is positive, Google+ may end up failing before it finally opens its doors to all. Or maybe not. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, here’s another “Google -” parody, just for the fun of it…